It's that time of year when teachers around the country lead the senior migration through the research paper.
Part of that journey involves teaching seniors the important skill of analyzing and evaluating source materials.
To that end, here are a few of my favorite resources for teaching students that as consumers and users of information they need to heed the warning: caveat emptor!
We begin with a video, ostensibly from the BBC, about the elusive flying penguin.
Next, we move to some web sites. I love the Help Save the Endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus website. If you click on the "media" tab, you can even observe the Tree Octopus in its natural habitat via a YouTube video!
A simple Google search yields a plethora of fake/hoax website possibilities, so have fun. When I'm able to have students examine these sites in the lab, I put links up on Moodle or on My Big Campus so that I can mix the fake w/ the real.
To assist students in their evaluation of sites, I provide them an internet site evaluation form. Kathy Schrock offers numerous forms for a variety of grade levels and website types here. For evaluating internet sites, I share this evaluation form with students.
Mr. Luna's Wikipedia page. Specifically, prior to the November election, she kept deleting Mr. Luna's education and published propaganda about the Luna Laws voters repealed in November. Luna graduated from an on-line college. Ultimately, the folks at Wikipedia contacted Ms. McGrath and directed her to cease editing the page, which they restored time and again. Major news outlets, including the Daily Koss and the Idaho Statesman published articles about McGrath's Wiki War.
Finally, I shared with students my own "you got me" story that happened recently. A friend emailed me a link to Diane Senechal's blog post "Teacher Reprimanded for Assigning Book." The image below shows the blog header and the beginning of the story:
I was completely fooled into thinking the story really happened. I had recently finished reading Senechel's fabulous book Republic of Noise, and as I saw nothing in the headline or on the header to suggest the story is fake and given all that has transpired in education in recent years, I believed Senechal's post--and I commented. I commented in such a way, that I laid bare my deception.
Only when Senechal informed me that the story is "satire" did I realize my mistake. Oops! My "gotcha" moment provided my students with an important lesson: Even the most savvy among us can make mistakes in our information saturated world.
The story also offers a nifty segue into the next lesson: We can't always trust the expert. There's a wonderful TED talk we'll view and discuss in our ongoing efforts to evaluate resources, including the experts.
Finally, knowing how to read a URL offers students important clues about what websites to trust. Moving from left to right are the most to least reliable types of internet sites:
.gov .edu .net .com .org
There are numerous ways students will attempt to "play school" on their educational journey. Those who guide them through their rites of passage owe students an academically valuable experience. Now's not the time to embrace or allow faking it.